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Is Art School for You?
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Art school and college are not the same thing. Art school is like going to engineering or culinary school. You learn a specific craft; you don't dabble in a variety of disciplines, as you might at a liberal arts college or university.
If you want to study art beyond high school, you have a few options. You can go to formal art school, you can go to a college that offers a fine art major or you can simply take art classes in college while majoring in another subject.
Art schools award a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree. Earning a BFA generally takes four years if you're studying full-time. Expect to spend at least two–thirds of your time creating or learning about art, and the rest completing general education requirements.
Don't pursue a BFA if art is a hobby and not a serious endeavor. Practicing art is as demanding as studying chemistry, and you'll spend as much time in the studio or practice room as a chem major would spend in the lab. Art school will develop your technical skills as well as your own creative voice. You'll also discover how to present, evaluate and talk about your work.
Art school offers full immersion; you'll be surrounded by artists nearly 24/7. The downside of all this is that you'll have little chance to explore fields that aren't art–related in any depth.
Traditional Colleges and Universities
If you are interested in pursuing other subjects in addition to art, a traditional college or university with an established art program may suit you better. You can major in art, even earn a BFA, but you'll be able to dive into other disciplines as well. And if you ultimately decide that art is not your passion, you can switch majors without switching schools.
Choosing a Path
Even if you need to take a day job for a while after graduating, your art school education will prepare you for a number of jobs. Art school grads often work in fields like publishing, television, advertising, graphic design and education.
It'll probably be a while before you can support yourself as a full–time artist. Some people never can. Still, if you love your work, the money won't matter.